city as school – models

in the city graphic

just some glimpses of some.. that inspire/model the idea of in the cityas the day ness. (city sketchup et al)

if equity is everyone getting a go every day.. redefining public education becomes revolution of everyday life.. aka: global equity

city vision i wish









[mostly – it seems we’ve either got  1) the basic income/sustainability type people who are doing in the city ness but after hrs/school; or 2) the ed city type that are doing it during the day but not as the day, because trying to work around common core type issues – partial freedom ness]

see more at city as floorplan – and many will be shared by Udi and Kelly‘s enlivened learning documentary..



Trade School is an alternative learning space that runs on barter.
Anyone can teach a class, and students can sign up for classes by
agreeing to bring barter items that the teacher requests. Trade School
has hosted classes on everything from squatting the condos (in
exchange for a kombucha mother and research help) to making butter (in
exchange for herbs and music tips).

In 2010, Trade School was started by three of the five co-founders of
creative barter network In 2011, self-organized Trade
Schools started springing up in Milan, Virginia, LA, London, and
Singapore. In 2012, more cities opened. Now in its fourth year, Trade
School celebrates practical wisdom, mutual respect, and the social
nature of exchange.

The organizers of this place call it a Trade School, but they’ve
turned the “trade” into a verb. It’s a month-long experiment in
bartering services and ideas where teachers, D.I.Y. buffs, Maker Faire
entrepreneurs, even high school students sign up for classes ranging
from the concrete (crocheting and portrait photography) to the
abstract (daydreaming and the foundations of ghost hunting). In return
for their services, teachers have received a trombone serenade, a
block of cheese, a pair of socks or even Tootsie Rolls, as payment. So
far, more than 800 people have matriculated.

  • M.I.T. Media Lab:

The faculty’s newest outpost: the troubled streets of downtown
Detroit. “I was in a rough neighbourhood there yesterday, where there
are miles and miles of bombed out buildings, and it just blows your
mind to see a bunch of kids building urban farms,” he says back in his
office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “They have no streetlights. If you
connect a streetlight to the grid, it gets controlled by the city and
regulated. So they’re thinking, how can we create solar-powered
low-cost streetlights, as that will lower crime? They have a maker
space in a church, a place where the kids can learn how to build a
computer, a bike shop where they can learn how to do repairs. city science 

100 Days of Spring transformed a former boutique clothing shop into a
community learning space. For a hundred days, people offered to teach
something they were interested in and anyone could sign up to take
their classes. The motto of the organizers is “Teach something. Learn
something. Create something.”

  • Harvard Community Innovation Lab:

In the fall class “Solving Problems Using Technology,” students from
Harvard’s Kennedy School (HKS) and Graduate School of Design (GSD)
teamed up with three community groups in Boston and the Mayor’s Office
of New Urban Mechanics to make these “big ideas” a reality in the
Dudley and Upham’s Corner neighborhoods.

In groups of four to six, students tackled questions such as how can
an affordable-housing project serve as a model for a
twenty-first-century public space and involve residents in the design
process? How can the housing project’s board form a strong link
between residents and City Hall? What can be done to draw people from
other parts of Boston to shop, eat, and see a show in Upham’s Corner?
How can technology enhance the visual identity of this area?

  • IndyHall in Philadelphia:

Indy Hall is an office space for ­freelancers—a 4,400-square-foot loft
in Old City peopled by website developers, computer programmers,
marketers, video-­game makers and artists, part of a movement known as
“co-working.”­ They pay by the month for the right to work there. A
“basic” membership costs $25 and includes one workday, while hard-core
users can get a full-time desk at Indy Hall for $275.

Over the next year, we’re going to prototype this interaction at Indy
Hall via a program based on these principals called “Indy Study Hall”.
Students will be able to use Indy Hall as a home-base for “getting
work done”, just like our members do. Some adjustments will be made to
the experience to make it more conducive to students’ lifestyles, but
we’ll also be baking in the opportunities for interaction with members
who have the interest in becoming a mentor.

  • The Amazings in the United Kingdom:

The Amazings is a new social enterprise in London to “help people who
are about to retire or have retired create amazing experiences with
the skills, knowledge, and passion they’ve picked up throughout their
life,” says the new organization. Through the site, retirees can sign
up to share their skills and experiences with others by way of group
classes and activities, with current offerings including “Street
photography with Andrew,” “Blow dry master class with Michael,” or
“Make your own natural lip balm with Gail.”

An abandoned government building in Hamburg, Germany, was scheduled to
be torn down this year. But residents in the area thought it could be
put to better use. Over the last four years, with little budget and
just a group of volunteers, the building was transformed in the
Neighborhood University [in German], a place for workshops, classes,
research, and living spaces.

The urban design department at HCU-Hamburg helped take the lead, using
their expertise in low-budget architecture and upcycling materials to
shape the redesign of the building. The space has hosted a huge
variety of projects, ranging from a summer camp where kids design
their own treehouses, to a bar where diners bring canned food to
donate in exchange for a cooked meal. As the name Neighborhood
University suggests, it’s also a hub for classes of all kinds, and
research applied to the local neighborhood.

Now, the project organizers are working to create a new part of the
experience: a DIY, community run hotel. The university is using the
creation of the hotel as a research project itself, studying how it’s
possible to create a high-quality hotel at a low budget, and also
studying how neighbors can co-design this type of space.

  • Gilberto Dimenstein:

In my neighborhood, Vila Madalena, we developed the
learning-neighborhood project in cooperation with a group of
communicators, psychologists and educators. The core idea was to map
the community’s resources: theater, schools, cultural centers,
companies, parks, etc. We created a network and trained the community
to take advantage of all these assets, turning them into social
capital. With this model, the school is trained to function as a hub,
connecting itself to the neighborhood, and then, to the city.

The learning-neighborhood project was an offshoot of an experience in
which I took part in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, in the early-90s,
called Bolsa-Escola. Commissioned in a poor neighborhood, this project
gives money to families, with the condition that their kids attend
school. It was the seed of a federal program called Bolsa-Família,
which reaches 11 million families, helping nearly 45 million people –
the model was expanded through Latin America and Africa.

After 10 years of experiments, the learning-neighborhood model started
to spread all over the country due to partnerships established among
federal, state and city governments. This model is taught today in
more than 500 Brazilians cities, covering 25,000 schools, through a
program created by the Ministry of Education.

Our goal is to allow anyone to create, at no cost, a learning
community within their own city — anywhere in the world.


  • Future Lab White Paper:

The first scenario involves no physical school at all. Learners are
based at home, learning online from each other and from experts who
can be based anywhere in the world. Major investment in buildings is
unnecessary and tutors monitor and support vast numbers of learners,
each of whom could be following a highly personalised curriculum.

The second scenario, the ‘dissolved’ secondary school, operates like a
university, with faculty centres spread across the town, each
concentrating on a specific area of expertise such as engineering,
media or science. This model is a shared resource for the whole
community, with learners being of any age, and offers the potential
for greater flexibility and a strong emphasis on lifelong learning.

In the third scenario, the ‘extended’ school is so all-embracing that
it is the community. Life is spent on campus and learning can take
place wherever and whenever it is needed, rather than following a
traditional timetable. It offers almost infinite flexibility but in
the extreme could create a ‘smothering totality.’

Dispense with the school building for a few classes; provide teachers
and use the city itself as the school — its streets, cafeterias,
stores, movies, museums, parks and factories. Where feasible, it
certainly makes more sense to teach using the real subject matter than
to bring an abstraction of the subject matter into the school building
as ‘curriculum’.

Along the same lines, but both outside and inside the school building,
use appropriate unlicensed adults of the community — the druggist,
the storekeeper, and the mechanic — as the proper educators of the
young into the grown-up world.

Decentralize an urban school (or do not build a new big building) into
small units, twenty to fifty, in available storefronts or clubhouses.
These tiny schools, equipped with record-player and pin-ball machine,
could combine play, serializing, discussion and formal teaching. For
special events, the small units can be brought together into a common
auditorium or gymnasium, so as to give the sense of the greater

  • GOOD: A Neighborday Manifesto:

Today, our definition of community is changing. A majority of American
adults don’t know their neighbors by name though most are on Facebook.
American children play more online  than play outside. And while the
internet age, has brought unprecedented access to information,
networks, and commerce, it’s unclear if it has brought us closer or
has in fact further isolated us.

Neighborday is about creating a new story. It’s about transcending the
old story of self to create a new story of us. It’s about expanding
our definition of self to include those who live above us, below us,
and next to us. It’s a call to action of the most important kind: to
let our neighbors in, and to build more self-reliant streets, blocks,
and neighborhoods, together. “But to be authentic,” farmer and poet
Wendell Berry reminds us, “this revival would have to be accomplished
mainly by the community itself. It would have to be done not from the
outside, but from the inside, by the ancient rule of neighborliness,
by the love of precious things, and by the wish to be home.”

  • The Revolution at Your Community Library New Media, New Community Centers in the New Republic by Sarah Williams Goldhagen:

What differentiates today’s community library from its precedents—what
makes it a wholly new building type in form and conception, albeit one
with a deceptively familiar name—is the variety of public goods that
it contains, and the variety of ways those goods are used by people as
individuals and collectives. People today rely on their community
library for so very many things! Books share space with DVDs, CDs,
magazines, Internet-connected computers, lecture halls, classrooms,
and more. The unemployed, under-employed, and self-employed frequent
them. Immigrants attend English-as-a-second-language classes there.
Homeless people park there. Caretakers and their young charges read,
or just escape social isolation without paying for that right at the
local mall. Working parents use them as free, safe depositories for
untended offspring. Retirees get to the classics they have long
deferred, work on their long-dreamed-of memoirs, dig into their family
genealogies. Bootstrap community organizations stage art shows,
concerts, performances, lectures.

Today’s community library looks and functions very little like its
predecessor, having usurped functions once served by institutions such
as YMCAs and Jewish Community Centers, absent the athletic facilities.
The best of them, selling nothing, offer what no other contemporary
building type provides: vibrant, informal, attractive, non-commercial
community places where people of any age, class, gender, race,
religion, or ethnicity can gather, and can obtain access to resources
vital to full participation in contemporary life, including but not
only the Internet.

Individuals need places where they can engage with others like and
unlike them, with whom they share an affiliation just by virtue of
inhabiting a particular city, town, or neighborhood. Groups of people
need places that can help constitute them into and symbolically
represent their community. Everyone needs what the urban sociologist
Ray Oldenberg calls third places—the first is home, the second is
school or workplace. That is what these new community libraries

Imagine a center in your community where kids — and adults, too —
could come to play, explore, make new friends, and learn. Computers,
art supplies, athletic equipment, and science equipment would be
available to play with. The public library might partner with it.
Local people would offer classes — in music, art, athletics, math,
foreign languages, cooking, business management, checkbook balancing,
or anything else that people deemed fun, interesting, or important
enough to study or practice in a structured way. There would be no
requirements, no grades, no ranking or comparisons between people.
Local theater and music groups could put on productions there, and
people of all ages could form new groups depending on their interests.

The center might be governed, town meeting style, by those who join
and use it. Through democratic vote, the members would make major
budgetary decisions and elect a board to oversee its operations. They
might hire several adults, and maybe some teenagers, to help manage
daily activities.


In 1961, Buckminster Fuller proposed the creation of a World Game for
the purpose of “making the world work for 100 percent of humanity in
the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without
ecological damage or disadvantage.” The world game he imagined was a
collaborative process in which players came together to propose
solutions to large-scale problems within a specific time frame. The
tran that could demonstrate a solution using the fastest known
technologies and available resources would win the first round.

Stanford’s James Fishkin has proposed the establishment of a new
national holiday, deliberation day.

Scientific research in community labs: BioCurious, Genspace

Expert insight

Socrates 2.0


csol & la – summer/badge/mayor initiatives

[freespace] – imagine that in the city and as the day.

summit and hatch – imagine them 24/7 for 7 billion people

city neighbors

greensboro – Pam Dorr

dojo – Deborah Frieze

social labs – Zaid Hassan

hub – oaxaca, mexico – Aerin Dunford

tinkering school – Gever Tulley

sf backyard nlc

The Workshop School – Michael Clapper, Simon Hauger, Matthew Riggan

Independent Project – ma, us

vegas city experiment

Civic School – as masters architecture project in uk – Neil Michels – via Luba

schools for life – 10

new bb

– – –


Do not waste your energy trying to reform all these schools. They cannot be reformed. It may be possible for a few of you, in a few places, to make a place called a school which will be a humane and useful doing place for the young… The most we will be able to do may be to find ways to help some children escape education and schooling, and to help some others, who cannot escape, to be less damaged by it than they are now.   – John Holt

Deschooling cannot be reduced to one more lifestyle option for those who already have vast privileges: It has to be possible for everyday people, or it loses any progressive, radical, or transformative impact.   – Matt Hern

city ness